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A Thousand Pieces of You: Firebird, Book 1
A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that A Thousand Pieces of You is the first in a planned sci-fi series about a form of time traveling in parallel universes. Although there's a central mystery, the novel is mostly propelled by the main character's romantic feelings (there's a convoluted love triangle, and a lengthy passage describing the main character's first -- and second -- time). There's occasional strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k," "a--hole"), and there are several violent interactions -- physical fights and weapons-based skirmishes -- and a couple of notable deaths that deeply affect the protagonist. With its inventive storyline, multiple settings, and romantic overtones, A Thousand Pieces of You should appeal to teens who are fans of speculative fiction love stories.
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What's the story?
Marguerite Caine is the daughter of genius scientists who developed a life-changing invention: the Firebird, which allows people to jump to parallel universes. After Marguerite's beloved father is killed, all clues point to his well-liked young research assistant Paul as the murderer. In hopes of bringing Paul to justice, Marguerite joins Theo (her parents' other graduate assistant) in using the Firebird technology to look for the missing Paul in other universes, such as futuristic London, Imperial Russia, an underwater city, and more. But as Marguerite jumps from universe to universe, the more she gets to know Paul and the less she believes he had something to do with her father's death.
Is it any good?
There's a lot to take in when reading this convoluted yet intriguing tale. There are the multiple universes to keep straight, along with flashbacks, corporate intrigue, and scientific explanations that are clearly fiction but reference schools of thought in physics and philosophy. Despite all of these elements, the mysteries in the plot are ultimately secondary to the primary concern of who Marguerite should love: the socially awkward but gorgeous and brilliant Paul or the charismatic but impetuous and intelligent Theo (never have two physics PhDs been described as so physically attractive; they might as well have been Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans).
Insecure about her place as an artist in a family of hard scientists, Marguerite can't see herself as others, particularly the two handsome geniuses, do. It's too bad Marguerite's so full of doubt and needs the guys to validate her, because her original mission to expose her father's murderer is brave and daring. Author Claudia Gray handles the setting changes well, but the book lingers in the Tsarist Russia universe the longest, making some of the other settings seem less important by comparison. The book explores thought-provoking questions about fate, love, and consciousness, but some readers may gloss over all of that to focus, like Marguerite herself, on which boy (and which universe's version of that boy) is her meant-to-be.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the popularity of time-bending stories. How does this one compare with more traditional time travel love stories?
How is sex depicted in the book? Under the circumstances, is it believable that that Marguerite would still be so open to romance?
Do you find Marguerite sympathetic, if not always likeable? Do you think her personality makes sense given her situation?
- Author: Claudia Gray
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Science and Nature
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: HarperTeen
- Publication date: December 1, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 14 - 17
- Number of pages: 368
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.